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Understanding your Subaru’s warning lights
Understanding your Subaru’s warning lights

Are you the sort of driver whose adrenalin kicks in when any warning light appears on the dashboard? Even if it’s simply an illuminated icon to remind you to visit a petrol station soon, because you’ve only got 40 miles worth of fuel left in the tank? Or are you more likely to ignore all the indicators until the car is actually making hideous wheezing or grinding sounds? (We hope not.)

The icons displayed on the instrument panel of your car are intended to alert you to a variety of different situations – to keep your car in perfect working order and you and your passengers safe. So it pays to understand what they all mean.

Warning: increasingly sophisticated technology at work

The increasingly sophisticated electronic systems and often-brightly-lit dashboards of most new cars can be surprising to some. And that’s quite understandable…

The increasingly sophisticated electronic systems and often-brightly-lit dashboards of most new cars can be surprising to some. And that’s quite understandable…

The sheer reliability of a Subaru makes it a supremely trusty workhorse. So perhaps you haven’t changed your vehicle recently. When you do take a test drive in a new Subaru, however, the difference in illumination levels will immediately strike you.

But what are the various warning lights that can activate on your Subaru’s dashboard? It’s important to know exactly what they’re alerting you to – well in advance of any troublesome situation.

Keeping you safe at all times

The colourful array of icons and indicators on the Subaru instrument panel The colourful array of icons and indicators on the Subaru instrument panel is specifically designed to help you keep your car in good working order and to ensure your safety at all times.

The different illuminated symbols can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’re a new Subaru driver, so we’ve put together this guide for you.

It’s very important that you familiarise yourself with the Subaru warning lights you’re most likely to see, because some can indicate a very serious situation. This would be the case if a malfunction is detected in the airbag system, for example.

From the moment you switch your car’s ignition on, multiple invisible systems swing into action to constantly monitor the safety, capability and performance of your Subaru.

AAt any given point in your journey, if something isn’t working as it should be, you’ll be alerted.

What do your car dashboard warning lights mean?

Sometimes, you’ll see a symbol light up to simply indicate that a system such as Adaptive Cruise Control, for example, is in operation.

A number of icons illuminate to advise you about everyday necessities – if you’re running low on windscreen washer fluid or you need to check the tyre pressures, for example.

Other warning lights are designed to inform you about a potential problem with one of your vehicle’s integral technologies or features.

For the purpose of this guide, we’ve categorised our warning lights according to the severity of the alert:

  • Green is an information alert. It means there’s something you should be aware of, but your vehicle can still be driven – there’s no immediate danger to you, your passengers or other road users.
  • Amber is an advisory alert. It means the system has detected an issue of a slightly more serious nature, which may need dealer intervention – but you can still drive your car.
  • Red is a major warning. It means swift rectification of a problem is required – you should speak to your local Subaru dealership before continuing with your journey.

The most common warning lights on a car

Here, we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide to some of the warning lights you might see on your Subaru instrument panel:

Please be aware that different models may have different features and the warning lights listed below may not be applicable to your vehicle.

> GREEN ALERTS

Seat belt warning light
One or more of the seat belts is not fully inserted or not worn, or there’s a potential fault in the seat belt circuitry. This warning light does not affect the function of correctly worn seat belts in an accident.

Steering Responsive Headlights OFF indicator / Steering Responsive Headlights warning light
Indicates that that the Steering Responsive Headlights (SRH) system has been physically deactivated using the switch on the dash panel. If the light is flashing, it’s indicating a fault in the SRH system. The headlights will still work, but won’t be steering responsive as you turn your vehicle into a corner.

LED headlight warning light
One or more of the car’s headlights is not working. Check them as soon as is safely possible. If you experience this warning while driving in the dark, it could obviously require more rapid intervention.

RAB warning light
Indicates a malfunction in the Reverse Automatic Braking system. Normal brake operation is not affected.

Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection warning indicator
Indicates a fault in the Subaru Rear Vehicle Detection system.

Particulate filter warning light
If this light is illuminated, check your owner’s handbook and adopt the recommend driving procedure. If the light is flashing, take the vehicle to your nearest dealer to avoid a potential breakdown situation.

e-BOXER fail lamp
The e-BOXER hybrid system is offline. Follow the multifunction display screen prompts to rectify this issue, or take your Subaru to your nearest dealer for a system diagnostic check.

Driver Monitoring System ON indicator / Driver Monitoring System warning light
When the Driver Monitoring System icon illuminates green, it indicates that the system is functioning correctly. When it illuminates yellow, it’s indicating a fault. This system does not affect the safety of your car and the vehicle will operate normally.

Windscreen washer fluid warning light
Indicates low/no fluid in the windscreen washer bottle – time for a top-up.

Door open warning light
If this icon illuminates, check that all doors are closed. If all doors are properly closed, there could be a detected fault in the door open warning system.


> AMBER ALERTS

Vehicle Dynamics Control ON indicator / Vehicle Dynamics Control warning light
Indicates a fault in your Subaru’s Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) system. Visit your nearest dealer to rectify the situation. You can safely drive your car, as the braking and steering systems still work.

EyeSight malfunction warning light / EyeSight temporarily stopped
Indicates the detection of a malfunction in your Subaru’s EyeSight system. It’s still possible to drive your vehicle safely, so take it to your nearest dealer to resolve the issue. Normal driving is also still possible if you see the EyeSight temporarily stopped icon, which may be caused by heavy rain, fog, bright sunlight or low light conditions.

Engine low oil level warning light
Indicates a low oil level. As soon as possible, safely park your vehicle on a level surface, check the oil level, and top up as necessary. If the light remains illuminated after top-up, contact your nearest dealer for advice.   


> RED ALERTS

SRS airbag system warning light
If this light is on continuously, it means there’s a problem with the airbag system – you need to take the vehicle to your nearest dealer immediately. Please be aware that the airbags may not activate in the event of an accident.

Coolant temperature warning light
Indicates that the engine coolant temperature is either too low or too high. If this light is blinking or illuminated red, safely stop the vehicle and contact your nearest dealer. If it’s blinking red and blue, it means there’s an electrical problem that your dealer will need to rectify for you.

Oil pressure warning light
This indicates low oil pressure. You need to immediately and safely stop the vehicle, switch off the engine and contact the nearest dealer. Do not re-start your car, as this may result in engine damage.

Check engine light
This warning light indicates a malfunction within the emission system. Contact your nearest dealer immediately to arrange investigation – otherwise the fault could cause severe engine damage.

Low tyre pressure warning light
If this light illuminates during driving, slowly stop the vehicle in a safe place and check your tyre pressures. If the light blinks and then illuminates constantly after re-starting your journey, contact your nearest dealer.

AT Oil Temp warning light
This warning activates if the automatic transmission fluid in your Subaru gets too hot. Safely stop your vehicle and let the engine idle until the warning light goes out. If the light is flashing, stop the vehicle and contact your nearest dealer. Do not continue driving, as this may cause transmission damage.

Brake system warning light
If illuminated red, this light indicates a possible malfunction within the brake system. Do not continue to drive. Make the necessary call to have your vehicle recovered to the nearest dealership.

AWD warning light
If this light is flashing, there’s a possible malfunction in the All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system. Stop the vehicle safely, and check the sizes and inflation pressures of its tyres. If they’re all correct, contact your nearest dealer for further advice.

Engine hood open warning light
Indicates that the bonnet of your car is open or there could be a fault in the electrical circuit. Stop the vehicle safely and check the bonnet is properly closed. If it all seems okay but the light stays on, contact your nearest dealer for advice.

Power steering warning light
This illuminates if the electric power steering has malfunctioned. Standard steering is still operational but it may feel heavy. Immediately take the vehicle to your nearest dealer.

Electronic parking brake warning light
This illuminates yellow to indicate a fault within the electronic handbrake system – the handbrake may unexpectedly apply or fail to operate when required. If the light flashes, it means a serious problem has been detected and the handbrake will not function when required. Stop the vehicle immediately and contact your nearest dealer. 

Charge warning light
If this warning light illuminates when you’re driving or remains on after start-up, it means the charging system is malfunctioning. This will result in a flat battery and vehicle breakdown. Stop the car safely and contact your nearest dealer.

Be alert to what any warning lights might mean

The warning lights in your Subaru are there for a reason: to protect you, your passengers and your car. Please take a few minutes to learn what each of them means – and familiarise yourself with the most severe warning scenarios (just in case).

You can find more information in your owner’s handbook and please don’t hesitate to speak to your local Subaru dealership if you require any additional advice or guidance.

It’s also quick and easy to book a comprehensive range of vehicle checks via our website.

Book vehicle checks

Please note: This guide has been compiled with the support of Subaru technical experts. However, the safety of your vehicle, its occupants and other road users is your responsibility at all times. If you have any concerns about a warning light or driving situation, stop the vehicle when it’s safe to do so and seek professional advice from your Subaru dealer or other responsible agencies.

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